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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Flashpointby Frank Creed

If there is one thing that can be said about Flashpoint, it's this is not your father's Christian apocalyptic tale. This first book in Frank Creed's series (the next book is coming out soon, I understand), introduces us to a world controlled by a group referred to as "One-State Neros." This group attempts to subdue a rebel alliance of Christians who refuse to submit. It is into this group that Dave and Jen are thrown when their own church comes under attack and is captured.

But the world Dave and Jen find themselves in is nothing but unique. Reality finds enhancements with mind downloads, superhuman abilities, and fights that have a decidedly Matrix feel to them. Dave becomes Calamity Kid and Jen, E-girl as they take their places in this showdown and attempt to save their church family and parents from reformation by the Neros. What you end up with is a near-future world that is nevertheless significantly different, but very real.

The positives of this book are several. It has an originality few books have, especially in this sub-genre. The voice of the author itself is unique and compelling. The story and the world will keep you on your toes, and creates a very enjoyable ride through this intriguing world. If you like action, the book is packed with it. If you like cool abilities and science, this is for you. If you like all that with a dose of a distinctive Christian worldview, look no further.

But there are some areas a reader will need to be aware of going in. One, this book uses a lot of slang. If you have no idea what it means to slag something, that should give you an idea. I could usually figure out from context what the words meant, but even then, such terms tended to jerk me out of the story a bit until I became used to them, and I often had to recall what a specific term meant. Some terms I never was sure what they meant. The book is full of such slang, so if that kind of thing bothers you, take note and make your decision to read going in. If you're comfortable with that level of current slang, then you should have no problem.

The other issue that jumped out at me is the overuse of metaphors. He uses them frequently. That is not always bad in itself, but frequently the metaphors caused me (and my wife and kids) to pause the story trying to figure out what he was trying to say with it, because it was a bit obscure. And a few times the metaphors simply felt too much, overdone to the point of not directly linking with the thought being conveyed. The story even ends on one such metaphor we had to stop and figure out.

If you like such metaphor puzzles, this will not bother you much. If you just want to read without having to pause and think about what was being said, it might be an issue for you. I personally didn't mind them as much, but my kids and wife seemed to stumble over them more. We still enjoyed the story, however.

Due to the above, I sometimes had trouble following what was going on. I followed the basic plot all right, but in scenes I had this feeling of being a bit unsure if the picture in my head was what it should be, as if I might be missing something that would make it complete. Sort of like a puzzle with two or three pieces missing. I could make out the bigger picture, but I really would have liked to see it complete, and I'm not sure I did. But in fairness, I sometimes have trouble following narration/story with certain styles, and this felt that way to me. So it may be more me than the author on that point.

And any reader should know this is a Christian book. There is no attempt to claim it is anything but, yet some people may miss that point until they get to the first Bible verse mentioned in the text. They are sprinkled throughout. And while integrated well with the characters and the plot, those of the non-Christian variety, while appreciating the story itself, may find such things annoying. That said, I don't find here an attempt to preach, even though one will find a point made here and there. But generally it is more a showing than a sermon.

Myself, I found the book to be enjoyable. If the above issues don't bother you, I would certainly recommend the book. If they do give you pause, I would still recommend the book. I don't think they make the story inaccessible, and while you may have to work more than you'd like, you'll still find the ride enjoyable and interesting as I think there is a lot to be said for this author's vision and execution. Despite the road bumps I had personally with it, I still am glad I read it and would recommend it to anyone desiring to live a very different life though interesting characters.

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